I love to forest bathe with my dogs, especially sitting with them in a "sit spot" near the end of our walk. I have a favourite place that I like to go, in a secluded neighborhood park, that has a bench and is surrounded by beautiful cedar, chestnut, and fruit trees. Today we sat together for about fifteen minutes, just using our senses to notice. I have found that my dogs do best after they have walked awhile, burnt off some energy, done some sniffing and of course, done their "business". If you decide to do a "sit spot" just find a place in nature that calls to you, sit, and do nothing, just relax. You might find that the first five minutes or so they are impatient, or whiny, and your own mind begins to wander, however in time this will dissipate for all. I notice that the longer I sit, the more patient and calmer we all become.
Today the songbirds were out and we were sitting near a magnificent chestnut tree. When I entered the park, I felt her beckoning to me, to come and be near her. I have walked to this beautiful sanctuary for many years, and she has become like an old friend knowing the stories in my heart. Everything is okay she said, just come sit with me awhile, and be still. So we all sat together my dogs, and I. My oldest girl is twelve (photo above), loves to whine, and can be very impatient. It took her about five minutes to settle and join me in the sit spot. As I sat I quietly noticed my body as it too started to calm, my breathing became softer, and my mind relaxed. Then my second girl joined us, sitting motionless and just noticing.
Together we forest bathed --in the distance I could hear the sound of water from a nearby creek, the ocean waves, the songbirds singing and feeling a gentle breeze on my face and skin. My girls were looking up, and I wondered, what are they seeing? So, I followed their lead, looking up and noticing the slow movement of clouds and some sunlight trying to come through. The little bit of sun felt good, and I experienced joy in that moment. The branches on the tops of the cedar trees were swaying in the wind, and a flock of songbirds flew quickly by, scattering from the sound of a moving vehicle. Together they moved on, finding shelter in some distant trees. There must have been at least fifty hiding in the tops of the cedar trees today. My girls were quiet now, just being in that moment in time, as though nothing else mattered.
The wind picked up. I love the sound of the wind; it is music to my heart. Silence in nature, is music to my ears.
Getting outside in nature is my medicine. When I am feeling down, uninspired in my art work, tired, stressed, or just low in general, a slow walk in fresh air always brings me back to life. I am blessed to live close to nature As I type this, I am looking out my window at beautiful old growth Douglas Fir trees (you can see them in the background of the photo here). They stand tall, looking over me and my home, here on Salt Spring Island. I feel a kinship to them, like they are old friends.
When I go for walks, I love to listen to the sounds of the bird song, the ocean waves and the gentle breeze. Feeling the warmth on my skin when the sun is shining, it is even more special. Spring is my favourite time of year as everything comes back to life and bursts into colour.
Nature distracts me from the busyness of life, and helps me to slow down and notice the small things. When we connect with our senses, it helps us to become more present, in the moment, and to let go of whatever else may be going on in our lives.
The other day I took this photo of the morning dew drops on some of our garden flowers. But before I did, I spent several minutes just enjoying the sun shining through the trees onto the water droplets, and watching the beautiful reflecting light through the leaves, and flowers. If I had not taken the time to slow down, I would have missed this special moment.
Forest & Nature Therapy
with Kelly Hutchison (Kiss).
Come walk with me...
Shinrin-Yoku (Forest Bathing) on Salt Spring Island,
the Gulf Islands &
Vancouver Island, BC.
Kelly Hutchison (Kiss)
I would like to acknowledge the land where I am living ~the unceded territory and ancestors of the Coast Salish Peoples of Salt Spring Island and surrounding areas who continue to use and steward the lands and waters of the Salish Sea. These include the traditional land of the local Hul'qumi'num Treaty Group (Cowichan, Halalt, Lyackson, Cowichan Lake, Penelakut), and Saanich First Nations
(Tsartlip, Tseycum, and Tswaout).